Monday, March 31, 2008

Snapshot! - Flower and Garden Delights

Epcot is literally exploding with life and color thanks to the 2008 International Flower and Garden Festival. Pluto proves that's its sometimes all right to let a dog in the garden. Nearby, Tic Tok is just one of the stunning elements of a horticultural vignette themed to Neverland and the characters from Peter Pan.

Lost Imagineering: The Crocodile Aquarium

Predating both EPCOT Center's The Living Seas and Shark Reef at Typhoon Lagoon by decades was this slightly more whimsical themed aquarium attraction featuring a design based on the character of Tic Tok from Peter Pan. The Crocodile Aquarium was conceived for Fantasyland at Disneyland but never realized.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Vacation Parade - Orlando Bound!

My family and I begin our own vacation parade as we steer the minivan south to Orlando this weekend. We will be residents of the World through the end of next week. I have prepared a few posts in advance that will appear throughout the week, and hopefully supplement with material from Walt Disney World as time and opportunity permits. If you will be at the parks this coming week, or are a cast member working the front lines, and you happen to see us, don't be shy--we'd love to meet you!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Virtual Souvenir: The Sky Crown License Plate

Any souvenir associated with Disney's Mineral King ski resort would most certainly have to be virtual in nature. Had the proposed Sky Crown development become a reality in the late 1960s, here is what the fashionable skiers of the day would have had affixed to their automobiles.

The license plate is derived from a design Kevin Kidney recently posted on his blog. Kevin posted the artwork for a number of logo concepts that were conceived in the early 1960s by an unidentified artist. Disney auctioned the original artwork for the logos in 2006.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Adventurers Almanac: The Teddy Toast

As a member of the Adventurers Club, one must always adhere strictly to its many conventions of etiquette. From Volume 54 Issue No. 1, Club butler Graves refreshes us on one of the establishment's most sacred and honored traditions:


Greetings, fellow Adventurers!

In future issues, as part of my duties as Club butler, I will be discussing the etiquette involved in many of the Adventurers Club functions (Manure Diving Competition, Gator Grappling Olympics, etc.), however, it has come to my attention that many of the present membership, particularly the newer members, are avoiding, if not totally ignoring, one of our most time honored traditions, the "Teddy Toast." As the ritual indicates, upon returning to the Club after a hard day of adventuring, one should move as speedily as possible to the nearest bar or watering hole and purchase the beverage of one's choice. Moving without delay, one should wend one's way back up to the "Founders' Corner" and stand before the portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, the ultimate adventurer. You are to raise your untouched drink high to the heavens, shout "Charge!" at the top of your lungs, and drain your glass completely.

This tradition dates back to the time Bart Biffbay was stopped in that particular spot by Nashy. Nash inquired how "Bilge-Water Bart" planned to settle his extremely large and extremely delinquent bar tab. Bart replied he would charge it, to which a rather angry and redfaced Nash screamed, "Charge!?!?" "Exactly!," said Bart, downing a gin and tonic, after which Nash downed Bart. In these simple times, we need to be true to our simple traditions.

Yours ever loyally — Graves

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Snapshot: Disneyland! - Catala Bullfish

Nestled amidst the flora and fauna of the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at Disney's California Adventure is a series of pseudo wood carvings that depict Native American legends and folklore. My very favorite was Catala. Here is the inscription from that particular carving:


Coyote was swallowed by this fish bit by bit
Because it taunted him and just wouldn't quit


Monday, March 24, 2008

The Toontown Field Guide: The Official Seal

Navigating the details at both Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland and Mickey's Toontown Fair at Walt Disney World sometimes requires at little research. Hence we present the Toontown Field Guide, a new ongoing feature here at 2719 Hyperion.

Our first identification takes us to City Hall at the west coast Toontown incarnation. While the Official Seal denotes the year 1928 in reference to Mickey Mouse's debut in Steamboat Willie, the character featured on the crest was born in 1946 in the Pluto cartoon Rescue Dog. According to John Grant's Encyclopedia of Walt Disney Animated Characters, the little seal was named Salty. He would return to torment Pluto a year later in the Mickey Mouse cartoon Mickey and the Seal.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

What a Character! - Gyro's Little Helper

As an always important but still subtle presence in comic book stories featuring the madcap but well-intentioned Gyro Gearloose, the Little Helper literally shines as both a loyal companion and resourceful assistant to the eccentric and often absent-minded inventor. So intentionally nondescript in nature was this character that it never was given a name in any official capacity. In its lifetime of just over five decades, it has been alternately referred to as Helper, Little Helper, Gyro's Helper and Little Bulb.

The little micro-robot sprang from the pencil of legendary comics creator Carl Barks in 1956. Introduced as a pint-sized sidekick to Gyro Gearloose in the story The Cat Box, Barks provided no explanation or background for the character. It was a simple comic device that acted as the inventor's common sense counterpart. In a 1991 article, Barks scholar Geoffrey Blum shed light on Little Helper's origins:

No sooner had Barks created a Four-page slot for Gyro stories at the back of his Uncle Scrooge comic, than he began to realize how empty the panels were. "I invented the little lightbulb character one time to take the bareness out of the Gyro stories," he explained, "It looked a little thin, just one character sitting there, talking to himself all the time." Barks attacked the problem graphically, filling in the background with sight gags involving a little wire man, but his language suggests that he was filling an emotional hole, providing a distraction for Gyro as much as for the reader. The inventor needed a companion.

As Barks' Gyro Gearloose stories evolved, Little Helper became a surprisingly well-defined supporting character with a very distinct and engaging personality. Often, its comic vignettes ran parallel to Gyro's panel by panel actions; it was particularly adept at interacting with small animals, often using the creatures for sport and amusement, though never in a mean-spirited nor malicious manner. And in some ways, Little Helper became much, much more. As Blum further noted:

With this naming, the bulb acquires a new role, that of rescuer. He is still mischievous, but now the mischief is incidental, and plots turn increasingly on his ability to assist his master. Gyro remains the hero of the four-page parables, and Barks' message remains the same: man is incapable of total control, and the greatest attempt to master life often leads to the greatest disaster? But now a moral slips in: steady effort, however small, can succeed where grandiose plans have failed. Cynical comments on man's fallibility give way to covert lessons in love, and the little wire man is increasingly depicted being emotionally attached to Gyro. The perfect companion, it seems, is one who pursues an independent course (or plotline) but is there when you need him. Loneliness, attractive and necessary as it may be to the creative artist, is in its own way an attempt at mastery. Don't benefit the world by dominating it with your brain; give by helping in small ways.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first appearance of Gyro Gearloose, modern four color duck scribe Don Rosa in 2002 penned an origin story of sorts that detailed the creation of Little Helper. Tying into 1950s era comic book continuity, Rosa related how Gyro helped Scrooge McDuck retrieve his vast fortune that was lost underground in events chronicled in the classic holiday tale A Christmas for Shacktown. In the process, Little Helper is created from a table lamp accidentally imbued with the inventor's intelligence. Gyro then retrofitted the newly sentient appliance with mechanical arms and legs, and doll shoes that acted as miniature shock absorbers. It becomes, as the story's title indicates, Gyro's First Invention. At the story's end, ever wise nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie indicate that not only was the little guy Gyro's first invention, he was also his best invention--" Part helper . . . and part best friend!"

A recent issue of the magazine Advanced Photoshop Magazine featured a cover illustration that certainly owed its design to Little Helper. But much in the spirit of the character's unobtrusive history, neither the magazine nor the digital artist made any acknowledgment of the rendering's comic book inspiration.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Snapshot! - Tomorrowland Twilight

Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World possesses a visual dynamic not shared but its other Magic Kingdom counterparts, with the possible exception of Main Street U.S.A. You see its dramatic and elaborate landscape well before you step onto its retro-futuristic Avenue of the Planets. This is particularly true after sunset when light and color combine for an often stunning tableau.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Visit to Toad Hall

Fantasyland at Disneyland is a treasure of architecture and details. Its 1983 makeover gave it a vibrancy and excitement unfortunately not shared by its counterpart in Walt Disney World. As a Florida Disney veteran, it was a thrill to be able to revisit Mister Toad and his loyal companions. But as fun as it was to take that wild ride again, I was simply amazed at the architecture and exterior details of Disneyland's Toad Hall. Sculptures of Toad, the family crest and the parked motor car are among the elements that enhance the elaborate brick and stone design.

Slightly off the radar is an exterior queue area to the left of the main entrance. There you will find these four reliefs depicting Toad and his loyal and steadfast friends--Moley, Rat and MacBadger.And our often repeated mantra of "Look Up!" is here again good advice. The weather vane for Toad Hall is a visual treat as well.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Studio Theatre That Never Was

In our earlier post on the Academy Theatre, we mentioned that its architect, S. Charles Lee, had done a rendering of a proposed theater building for the Disney Studios in Burbank. Lee's conception was an elaborate design in the Streamline Moderne style that unfortunately was never realized. This annotation from the UCLA library described Lee's intentions for the building:

"Lee’s concept shows a glistening exterior of shiny materials, perhaps glass or ceramic tiles. To add height and presence to the building, Lee set the entrance up on a podium and accented the semicircular Streamline Moderne facade with vertical tower forms. A broad overhanging marquee echoes the circular form of the facade; its recessed lights illuminate the glass-walled foyer and the area around the entrance."

The theater that came to be built at the Burbank studio is little more than two entrance doors and a small sign. Function and budget likely trumped aesthetics, and Lee's original design subsequently joined the ranks of the always fascinating Disney That Never Was.
Special thanks to Jeff Kurtti for providing current photos of the Burbank studio theater.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Freeze Frame! - Hench's Palace of Pleasure

Here's a wonderful and very funny Freeze Frame! related to yesterday's post about amusement parks. The amusement pier background created for the Donald Duck cartoon Straight Shooters, and later used again in Hold That Pose and Father's Weekend, features a subtle but hilarious tribute to one particular studio veteran. One of the pier's entertainment venues sports a sign advertising Hench's Palace of Pleasure, a clear reference to Disney legend and famed Imagineer John Hench.

Image © Walt Disney Company

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Roadside Disney: Waterfront Amusements

Midways and rollercoasters. Funhouses and penny arcades. These types of amusements have long been considered the antithesis of Disney-based entertainment. Piers, parks and carnivals represented the entertainment dynamic Walt Disney sought to avoid when he created Disneyland. Yet his animators had drawn inspiration from such settings, and contemporary Imagineers have revisited these more traditional amusement venues in recent theme park conceptualizations.

While not necessarily roadside attractions in the traditional sense, amusement piers and boardwalks still relate rather closely to the mid-20th century popular culture influences we have been studying in the Roadside Disney series.

Ironically, the most obvious and certainly most elaborate execution of this theme was in a production based in fantasy, rather than reflecting a contemporary cultural setting. While Disney's second animated feature Pinocchio was drawn from Carlo Collodi's children's story, the film's penultimate sequence on Pleasure Island owed its visual direction and design sensibilities to amusement parks and carnivals. In Collodi's original story, Pinocchio accompanies his friend Candlewick to "the land of Boobies," where they engage in unspecified play and frolic before transforming into donkeys. Disney and his artists expanded this somewhat ambiguous setting into Pleasure Island, a full-blown amusement park, replete with rides, games and carnival food that veered distinctly away from the story's 19th century Italian folktale origins. The sequence played to the seedier side of amusement and carny operations--drinking, smoking, carousing and fighting, serving to bring about the jackass transformations of Pinocchio and Lampwick. It was effective, yet it more reflected then-contemporary Americana and was in direct contrast to the film's otherwise European look and feel. The design of Pleasure Island was clearly rooted in real world amusement parks from the early decades of the 20th century. Coney Island's Luna Park, Dreamland and Steeplechase Park establishments were likely among the artists' inspirations.

One of the attractions common to amusement parks was the penny arcade. A popular place filled with pinball, claw and digger machines and Mutoscope movies, an arcade was a popular destination at boardwalks, piers and other similar locations. In 1941, Disney cartoon makers translated the penny arcade into animated form in the Donald Duck short A Good Time for a Dime. Drawing on amusement park architecture, the short opens with Donald standing at the entrance to an arcade, its talking clown facade inviting him inside. Animators had employed similar oversize "architectural barkers" in their designs for Pleasure Island in Pinocchio. It was a style common to early amusement park establishments, and likely also inspired in part by Steeplechase Park's broadly caricatured and iconic "funny face" that was that park's trademark and mascot for many years.

Throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Disney Studios produced a number of cartoons that featured oceanfront settings. Southern California was home to quite a few amusement piers, so it was only natural that animated incarnations of these beachside "fun zones" ultimately played host to the likes of Goofy and Donald Duck and his nephews. In 1947, background artist Thelma Witmer created an amusement pier setting for the Donald Duck cartoon Straight Shooters. While many would likely consider the background to be a fairly generic representation of an amusement setting, the rendering bore a striking resemblance to the Venice Beach amusement pier in Venice, California. That Fun Zone's Bamboo Slide is clearly featured in cartoon form, as is the rollercoaster that long occupied a location at the very end of the pier. Operated by the Kinney family, the pier reached its peak of popularity in the 1920s when it attracted several hundred thousand visitors on busy weekends. By the time Disney produced Straight Shooters in the mid-1940s, the pier's popularity had waned and civic and political forces brought about its demolition.

In Straight Shooters, animators made sport of one of the most negative of amusement park archtypes, the dishonest and frequently scamming midway pitchman. Donald naturally assumes that particular role, and subsequently sets the stage for a showdown between himself and his ever resourceful nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.

The background painting in Straight Shooters would go on to be recycled for two other animated shorts. In Hold That Pose, released in 1950, Goofy is sidetracked from the zoo to a fun zone when he leads his photographic quarry, a bear, on a merry chase through a funhouse, a rollercoaster and other assorted amusement park trappings. A few years later, George Geef's day at the beach with his son Junior in the Goofy cartoon Father's Weekend ultimately takes him to the same amusement pier. Sailors on shore leave frequently haunted the piers and this is reflected in Geef's tunnel of love encounter and also his inadvertent visit to a tattoo parlor. It is interesting to note that the narrator of Father's Weekend specifically calls the amusement area the "Fun Zone," the same name given to the midway on the Venice Beach pier.

Midway hucksters and tattoo parlors were just a couple of the less than savory elements associated with the amusement piers, and those and similar negative associations served to inspire Walt Disney to build a more family-friendly amusement establishment in the form of Disneyland. It therefore should not have been surprising to Disney management and Imagineers that their concept for the Paradise Pier area of Disney's California Adventure that debuted with that park in 2001, was greeted criticism from many Disney theme park enthusiasts. Bright, colorful and clean, the area captured the nostalgia and thrills of traditional amusement venues while jettisoning the seedier elements long associated with such places. Much in the way Main Street U.S.A. is an idealized manifestation of turn-of-the-century American life that skillfully eliminated the saloons and muddy thorofares common to small towns of that era, Imagineers cleaned up and re-imagined the amusement pier in the same manner. What was formerly without theme became a theme unto itself. It is a concept not entirely without controversy; acceptance is generally contingent upon the level of nostagia a given individual feels for the amusement park dynamic. Most visitors to Paradise Pier take no offense. Others reject it out of hand, citing the very overused and often intangible notion of Walt Disney's half a century removed disapproval.

The style and design of amusement establishments is in many ways an architectural cousin to California Crazy, which we featured in an earlier Roadside Disney article. Though programmatic architecture is most closely associated with roadside landscapes, it had a parallel evolution in amusement park settings where its often outlandish designs were generally more appropriate. In Pinocchio, Pinocchio and Lampwick sojourn to a pool hall that exists in the form of a giant-sized eight ball. The Venice Pier-inspired background from the shorts features a sphinx facade. Paradise Pier's Orange Stinger swing ride is enclosed in oversized citrus fruit.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Crazy About Movies

Leonard Maltin has long been one of my heroes and role models. His cartoon history tome Of Mice and Magic opened up the world of classic Hollywood animation to me some twenty five or so years ago, and he's one of the very few film critics I feel I can trust for fair and insightful reviews. His participation in the Disney Treasures DVD series is but one of many reasons to elevate him to Hollywood sainthood.

So it should come as no surprise that I heartily and enthusiastically recommend his latest book Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy. Collecting the very best of his quarterly newsletter that is a veritable cornucopia of movie history, star interviews and Hollywood ephemera, the book is a page turner of the highest magnitude. And lest you think I veer off topic from " . . . the Many Worlds of Disney Entertainment," Maltin frequently touches on Disney-related material. Especially notable is Chapter Four which features the article "The Women of Ink and Paint," a wonderful interview with Betty Kimball and Marie Johnston. It is a fun, accessible read and hopefully the first of many future volumes that will continue to collect the best of Maltin's Movie Crazy efforts.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lost Imagineering: Space

Over twenty years before the current Mission: Space attraction was realized, concepts were drawn for a space-themed pavilion that would have debuted sometime during EPCOT Center's first decade of operation. Much grander in both scope and design, the centerpiece of the pavilion would have been a simulated journey on board a "huge interstellar space vehicle."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Snapshot: Disneyland! - Heavenly Music from Club 33

One last Snapshot! from Disneyland before we return to a more normal routine of posting.

Lillian Disney commissioned the construction of this beautiful harpsichord for Club 33 in New Orleans Square. The hand-painted scene on the underside of the lid depicts a 19th century view of New Orleans.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Snapshot: Disneyland! - West Coast Muppets

The Muppet*Vision 3-D attraction can be found at both Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's California Adventure, but the two venues share little in common in terms of exterior and queue line theming. One of the funnier elements to be found at the west coast incarnation is The Great Gonzo's Catapult of Doom.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Snapshot: Disneyland! - Goin' Postal in Toontown

Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland is Snapshot! heaven. Design and color mix for pure eye candy wherever you turn. Even something as mundane as a mailbox becomes a visual treat.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Snapshot: Disneyland! - Freddie the Bat

A quick Snapshot! from the Happiest Place. The pet cemetery is a bit more accessible at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion than at its Florida counterpart. Freddie the Bat went on to his reward in 1847.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Californy er Bust!

Even the most casual of readers here are likely to notice my slightly more Florida-based focus when it comes to Disney theme parks. This has always been more a product of geography than any intentional bias on my part. To correct this imbalance at least to some degree, I'm heading to southern California this weekend for my first trip to Disneyland in nearly two decades. To say I'm happy and excited would most certainly be an understatement of epic proportions.

Though it will be a crazy and jam-packed few days, I'm hoping to find time to visit the location whose name also graces the top of this web page. As I noted in one of my earliest posts, "Hallowed ground amidst the produce, canned goods, shopping carts and cigarettes." 2719 Hyperion awaits.

I hope to update the site as time and opportunities permit. If you happen to be in Disneyland this weekend and spot my colleagues and I, don't be shy--we'd love to meet you!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Disney's Hollywood: The Warner Beverly Hills

On our last visit to Disney's Hollywood, we explored the Academy Theatre and its Florida counterpart, the Legends of Hollywood facade at Disney's Hollywood Studios. We're now going to take a few short steps across Sunset Boulevard and discover the aesthetic inspiration behind the Beverly Sunset, another movie palace-themed design that is home to the Beverly Sunset Sweet Spells store. Its very name gives a hint to the location and name of the southern California theater upon which it is based.

The Warner Beverly Hills Theatre was located at 9404 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Designed by well known theater architect B. Marcus Priteca, the building's large scale and elaborate art deco design made it a prominent feature in the landscape of Beverly Hills, distinguished especially by its tall neon-lit tower sign. Once a showcase for high profile films such as Lawrence of Arabia and The Sound of Music, it declined to a barely attended bargain venue prior to its demolition in 1989. It was razed to make room for a parking lot.

Photo Credits
Legends Facade - Flickr User the crystal skull
Warner Beverly Hills - LAPL

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mount Disney: The Legacy of Walt at Sugar Bowl

Hide in plain sight.

As a student of Disney history I have come to embrace that particular cliche. Simple and almost always overlooked details in Disney entertainment can often lead to very enjoyable and enlightening journeys of historical discovery. I recently embarked on such a journey after watching the Goofy cartoon The Art of Skiing.

Released in late 1941, The Art of Skiing was the first of Goofy's many sports-related how-to shorts. The cartoon opens with a panoramic sweep of snow covered mountains, eventually focusing in on a rustic ski lodge, within which the Goof is awakening and subsequently preparing for a day on the slopes. A sign identifies the building as the Sugar Bowl Lodge. That identification lasted just a few seconds on the movie screen, but proved a window into a little remembered chapter in the life of Walt Disney.

In the late 1930s, Walt Disney met Austrian skiing champion Hannes Schroll. Walt became acquainted with Schroll while vacationing at Badger Pass where Schroll was the head of the Yosemite Ski School. The two became good friends. In 1938, Schroll and business partners purchased land for the intention of building a ski resort in the east Sierras near Donner's Summit and the small town of Truckee. The land encompassed an area around two mountains--Hemlock Peak and Mount Lincoln. Schroll had sought financial assistance from Disney in purchasing the land as funds from his native Austria had been appropriated in the spring of that year, when Hitler annexed that country. Schroll wired Disney in June seeking help; Walt was unfortunately out of town when the cable arrived and Schroll had to find others to advance the needed funds to secure the land purchase. One year later when Schroll was seeking additional investments to build the resort, he again approached Walt who in turn wrote Schroll a check for $2500, and became one of the initial stockholders of the newly christened Sugar Bowl resort. To honor Walt's support and partnership, Schroll changed the name of Hemlock Peak to Mount Disney.

Among the preeminent enticements that drew skiers to Sugar Bowl in those early years were the chairlift up Mount Disney, the first such lift in California; and the lodge, designed by architect William Wurster and later featured in the Goofy cartoon. A newspaper report from November of 1939 announced:

"The Sugar Bowl, located about 1 1/2 miles from Norden Station, near the Donner Summit, has been developed by a private corporation headed by Hannes Schroll, Olympic ski champion, for use this season as a winter sports area. This year a new upski and a new lodge have been constructed. The new chairlift lifts skiers 1,000 feet vertically to the top of the Sugar Bowl’s rim. The lodge, which will open on December 15, accommodates 40 persons and has 10 double rooms and two dormitories, one for men and one for women. Other features include a lounge, bar, dining hall, lunch counter and rest room facilities."
Walt vacationed at Sugar Bowl in early 1941 with wife Lillian and daughter Diane. A photograph survives showing the three with Hannes Schroll at the resort. Of that trip, Diane Disney Miller recalled, "That was a long time ago, and I seem to myself to have been 7. There were twins, boy and girl, who were the children of the manager, that were one year younger than me. I remember that I very much wanted to learn to ski, that the twins--the boy, at least--drove me crazy, and the highlight of the trip was when Hannes took me up the chair lift, with my parents, on Mount Disney and skied down with me on his shoulders."

In their book Skiing With Style, authors Robert Frohlich and S. E. Humphries related how Walt once performed duties beyond just his role of stockholder. According to John Wiley, the resorts first winter sports director, Walt once filled in for a bartender at the lodge's bar. Wiley recalled, "There was no television in those days, so he tended bar almost incognito for about two hours."

Other notable Hollywood personalities found their way to Sugar Bowl as well. Among them were Levi Strauss, King Vidor, Norma Shearer, Errol Flynn, Jean Arthur and Claudette Colbert. In spring on 1941, exterior scenes for the MGM film Two Faced Woman were shot at Sugar Bowl. The film starred Greta Garbo and Melvin Douglas, but the two never left their Hollywood studio. Stunt doubles skied in their places for the second unit filming.

The Art of Skiing was produced throughout 1941. It is interesting to note the now famous and trademark "Goofy yell" originated with Hannes Schroll. An accomplished yodeler, Schroll was recruited by Walt to record material for the cartoon. In November of 1941, the world premiere of The Art of Skiing was held at the Fairmont Hotel in nearby San Francisco as part of the city's Annual Skiers Ball. Walt and Lillian attended the event and presented the cartoon.

Despite turning away from the sport in later years, Walt remained a part of the resort for some time. He sponsored events such as the Disney Junior Challenge Trophy and the Sugar Bowl Perpetual Goofy Races for children. And the legacy of Walt's involvement with the resort remains apparent. In addition to Mount Disney, there are specific runs named the Disney Nose, the Disney Meadow, the Disney Return and the Donald Duck. A modernized lift replaced the original Disney Chair and is now called the Disney Express.

Walt revisited his interests in winter sports and skiing in the 1960s. He produced the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1960 Winter Olympics held at Squaw Valley, California, and at the time of his death was formulating plans for a ski resort at Mineral King valley near Sequoia National Park, a project ultimately unrealized.

Special thanks to Diane Disney Miller, David Lesjak and also Jennie Bartlett from Sugar Bowl for generously providing assistance in my research efforts.

Art of Skiing Images © Walt Disney Company
Sugar Bowl Images Courtesy of the Sugar Bowl Resort

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Freeze Frame! - Valiant & Valiant Newspaper Clippings

It is by no means an understatement to say that nearly every frame of the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit would qualify for Freeze Frame! status. While it has long been a fun and challenging task to identify all the cartoon character cameos in the movie, there is a wealth of details in the set dressings that are equally fun and entertaining. Newspaper clippings in Eddie Valiant's dusty office reveal some of the earlier and significant cases of Valiant and Valiant Private Investigators.
Images © Walt Disney Company/Amblin

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Snapshot! - A Tribute to Widowmaker

"From that time on them two stuck together, like warts on a toad, like birds of a feather."

Honored among the many tall tales and legends celebrated within Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn and Cafe at Walt Disney World is the famous cowboy's faithful horse Widowmaker. When Sluefoot Sue entered the picture, Widowmaker was none too happy. Imagineers kept this in mind and the tribute to Sue is located in a different room at the cafe.